China, Australia ink deal to firm up Antarctica exploration

China and Australia have signed an agreement to further enhance cooperation in exploring Antarctica under which they will exchange data and personnel.

PTI| Last Updated: Nov 19, 2014, 15:31 PM IST

Beijing: China and Australia have signed an agreement to further enhance cooperation in exploring Antarctica under which they will exchange data and personnel.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed yesterday during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Tasmania in Australia.

Under the MoU on Antarctica, a joint committee to be established by both the countries will meet every two years to oversee the cooperation and a mechanism for environmental, policy, scientific and operational collaboration in Antarctica, official media here reported.

Also a platform for Antarctic official and academic exchanges will be established, under which Australia would be a gateway to Antarctica.

Xi said China would like to continue to cooperate with Australia and other nations to further know, protect and explore Antarctica.

Chen Danhong, director of the International Cooperation Division under the Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration, said the memorandum sends an important signal that cooperation will deepen.

"The two countries will increase data sharing and personnel exchanges in Antarctic scientific research activities and be supportive of each other in logistics and emergency and rescue," Chen was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.

China and Australia have a productive relationship in Antarctic affairs, which lays a good foundation for the implementation of the memorandum, she said.

"Antarctica involves a vast, mostly unknown area that needs international collaboration," Chen said.

The collaboration between China and Australia can be dated to three decades ago when Australia helped facilitate China's first visit to east Antarctica and the two nations provided support in logistics and emergency and rescue over the years.

China has three stations and one summer camp on the frozen continent while Australia has three stations.